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Engineers' Comeback Falls Short, 4-2

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, February 28, 2009

TROY - In their previous meeting last month in Potsdam, Clarkson came from behind to take the lead, and the win, away from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Engineers did their best to return the favor Friday night, but it was too little, too late.

Clarkson built a 4-0 lead after two periods, and withstood an RPI rally in the second half of the third for a 4-2 win at Houston Field House.

In sweeping the season series, Clarkson improved to 8-9-4 in the ECAC and 10-16-7 overall, and put itself in position to clinch a home-ice berth for the first round of the playoffs.

RPI (6-14-1, 7-23-2), which hosts St. Lawrence tonight in its regular-season finale, lost for the fourth straight game.

"No question, guys went after it in the third and they didn't quit, and that's a good thing," Engineers coach Seth Appert said. "But you would expect that. That's something that's expected when you put that jersey on.

"I didn't think our seniors and our big-time players, our go-to guys, did enough in the first two periods. They have to perform when the game matters."

Sophomore linemates Chase Polacek and Tyler Helfrich scored 2:45 apart in the third period for RPI, the latter with 6:31 remaining, to cut the deficit in half. Outshot, 19-7, through 40 minutes, the Engineers held a 12-4 advantage in the third.

"For two and a half periods, we played pretty well," Clarkson coach George Roll said. "We had a turnover in the neutral zone, and they got back into it. We looked a little tight. We haven't been in that position all year, but we found a way to hold on.

"We were doing a great job, defensively, and then the crowd got into it and they got their legs, and we were lucky to hold on. If they get it to 4-3, who knows what's going to happen."

Clarkson used its power play to take a 2-0 lead in the first period. Engineers defenseman Eric Burgdoerfer was whistled for elbowing, and RPI was caught with too many men on the ice, both with 7:47 left, to give the Knights a four-on-three skating advantage.

Bryan Rufenach wristed a shot from the right circle that found its way past RPI freshman goalie Allen York at 13:01. Just 61 seconds later, Louke Oakley found room in the slot, and surprised York with a snap shot between the pads that trickled across the goal line.

"We have a lot of energy coming out, and they make a play four-on-three, and it was a great play. So what," Appert said. "Then, they get the next one and now, the team sinks, and we don't recover for way too long.

"Every guy in that room has to have more conviction to what they're fighting for than that. We have to have the guts to make plays both ways when the game's on the line."

Clarkson extended its lead to 3-0 on a fluke play 8:27 into the second period. York went out to play the puck in the left corner, and his clearing pass hit the side of the net and went directly to Knights forward Nick Tremblay, who tapped it into the vacated net.

Only 13 seconds after RPI failed to convert its fifth power play, Brandon DeFazio joined the rush out of the penalty box and zipped a wrister past York at 14:11 to make it 4-0.

Polacek spoiled Clarkson's shutout bid midway through the third period, pulling up in the left circle and firing a shot low inside the right post for his 10th goal of the season.

Helfrich made it 4-2 when he wheeled around in the slot and whacked with his backhand at a loose puck, which sailed in the upper right corner of the net.

"Hopefully, the guys in the room can take something from that, and build on it," Appert said.

NOTEBOOK

In honor of RPI senior defenseman Andrei Uryadov, the Russian national anthem was played before the game in place of Canada's. ...

The Engineers will honor seniors Uryadov, Matt Angers-Goulet, Kurt Colling, Seth Klerer and goalie Mathias Lange tonight.